This is not a new idea. Three years ago, I was considering to leave my CTO position in Ask.com for creating a new start up around a new idea of social content creation. This posting will describe a revision of those original intuitions.
I am a big fan of Wikipedia, which is, in my opinion, the natural complement of Web search. In Wikipedia, hundreds of thousands of editors contribute to create content organized in millions of different encyclopaedic voices which are available in multiple languages. The key strength of Wikipedia is that anyone can start creating content but this content will be continuously revised by other editors. As a consequence, this never ending process guarantees very high quality. Indeed, On 14 December 2005, the scientific journal Nature reported that, within 42 randomly selected general science articles, there were 162 mistakes in Wikipedia versus 123 in Britannica.
My idea was to give a clear identity to the editors, associate an explicit profile and an explicit network of relations, so that it would have been possible to identify experts around different topics in a clear and direct way.
Adopting a more recent jargon introduced in my recent posting "from objects to subjects", I can describe the idea in a more synthetic way. Encyclopaedic voices in Wikipedia are a particular type of objects and the editors are the subjects who are creating, editing and discussing those objects. It should be possible to rank those subjects, match on the fly different subjects according to the objects they annotate, identify expertise in subjects and so on and so forth.
You may wonder what was the reason why I decided to not create a new startup. Well, while I was considering the idea Google announced Knol, which is probably one of the less successful initiative started by Google because Wikipedia was already very strong and there was no idea of Social graph at that time.
Anyway, three years ago was probably too early but now it could be the right time to have a Social Wikipedia == Social Graph + Wikipedia.
What do you think?